Do sharks live in the Pacific Ocean?

Do sharks live in the Pacific Ocean?

Our globe comprises 5 oceans. Out of these 5, the Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest, covering an astonishing 63,000,000 square miles.

In fact, it is so large that we can fit the entire landmass of the world within the Pacific basin.

The Pacific Ocean can be found between 4 major continents: Australasia, Asia, North America and South America. Within this large body of water, a high species biodiversity has been recorded, including many shark species, such as the great white shark and hammerhead shark.

As the Pacific Ocean encompasses such a vast space, sharks that inhabit temperate, tropical and even arctic waters can be found. Many of these species, such as the great whites and hammerheads, travel incredible distances.

Others, including reef sharks, remain localized within the Pacific Ocean.

Read on to discover more about the species that live in the Pacific Ocean.

Are there more sharks in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean?

Off the Pacific Coast of North America, at least 34 different shark species have been recorded. These are typically species that prefer temperate waters, such as the great whites and tiger sharks.

However, higher species diversity can be found towards the equator and into tropical waters regardless of the oceans.

It is hard to quantify just how many species live in each ocean region. This is because many species are transboundary. Unlike terrestrial animals, which are often isolated in certain regions due to physical or natural barriers, many marine animals are not restricted to just one area.

This is the case with certain species of sharks. Some species display migratory behavior, moving between different oceans, such as the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, using underwater corridors.

For example, the bull shark can be found in both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, able to tolerate both fresh and saltwater. They can use rivers and waterways to navigate from coast to coast.

Similarly, the great white shark can also be found in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In fact, there could well be a higher overall population of Atlantic great whites than their Pacific counterparts.

In 2018, there were 27 recorded shark attacks off the Atlantic coastline, compared to just 4 off the Pacific coastline.

What sharks live in the Pacific Ocean?

Great White Shark

Found throughout temperate waters, the great white sharks are one of the oceans’ greatest nomads. Found within the Northern Pacific Ocean, great whites have been observed regularly migrating between Mexico and Hawaii.

On the other side of the globe, they can be found in the South Pacific Oceans off Australia.

Although migratory, they seem to indicate a preference for temporary residence at favored sites throughout the Pacific.

Great white shark

Hammerhead Shark

Of the 9 hammerhead shark species, 5 species can be found within the Pacific Ocean.

The Great Hammerhead is the largest of all species. Typically a solitary and largely nomadic predator, found close to continental shelves and coastal waters.

Some of the largest congregations of hammerheads can be found between Central America and the Pacific islands of the Galapagos and Cocos Islands. Here, individuals congregate in the thousands.

The waters around Pacific archipelagos and islands are rich in nutrients, owing to oceanic currents.

The abundance of nutrients fuels the entire ecosystem, from tiny shoaling fish to apex predators, such as hammerheads.

You can see just how many hammerheads and other shark species congregate off the shores of Cocos Islands in the Pacific Ocean in the video below.

Whale Shark

The largest extant fish in the ocean, the whale shark, roams the tropical waters of the globe.

Although some whale sharks can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, 75% of the entire population of whale sharks can be found within the Indo-Pacific region.

In certain areas of the Pacific, such as Darwin Island off the Galapagos and Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia, seasonal feeding aggregations occur in response to plankton swarms, the favorite prey for these filter-feeding animals.

Typically solitary sharks, in times of feeding aggregations, as many as 400 individuals have been recorded.

whale shark

Are there sharks in the Atlantic Ocean?

Yes! Second only to the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean on our planet, covering over 41,000,000 square miles.

In this vast expanse of water, many shark species can be found.

From the Eastern coasts of North and South America to Western Europe, down into the Caribbean basin and Western Africa, an incredible diversity of sharks can be found, from friendly giants to streamlined sprinters.

Whether you’re observing the views off a Cornish cliff, or exploring a South American Island, look out for these prehistoric creatures.

Basking Shark

The second-largest fish in our oceans, the basking shark, can reach lengths of 8 meters.

A migratory species, the basking shark, travels great distances across temperate zones of the Atlantic ocean in search of plankton swarms.

They are slow-moving, docile and stay close to the sunlight waters, close to the surface.

Basking shark

Mako Shark

One of the most numerously encountered sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mako shark is also one of the fastest shark species.

Adapted for speed, with a cylindrical shape similar to that of a torpedo, they can reach speeds of up to 45mph!

The speed helps catch one of their favorite prey species: Atlantic Bluefin Tuna.

Although they can be found throughout much of the world’s oceans, they especially thrive in Atlantic waters.

mako shark


The dogfish is a small shark found exclusively in the Atlantic Ocean.

They thrive off the coasts of the British Isles; however, they also reside throughout the Mediterranean and Northern Africa.

Unlike other species found throughout the Atlantic, the mouth of the dogfish is situated far back on the underside.

This adaptation has allowed them to forage for benthic prey, such as shellfish and crustaceans.

dogfish shark
Doug Costa, NOAA/SBNMS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Sharks are an ancient group of animals that have inhabited our oceans since dinosaurs.

They have adapted to thrive in all parts of the oceans. They can be found in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, sometimes migrating thousands of miles between the two oceans.

Many shark species have populations spanning the two biggest oceans, such as the great white and hammerhead sharks.

However, due to the sheer size of the oceans and the migratory behavior of some species, it is hard to say just how many species live exclusively within the two oceans.